It’s much too early in the season to be alarmed, but Bobby Bradley – the highly regarded Cleveland prospect from Gulfport – is off to a noticeably rough start in his second Double-A campaign. The 21-year-old first baseman is batting .103 with two home runs and 20 strikeouts in 58 at-bats for Akron. Bradley reported for spring training – he went to big league camp, where he batted .312 – having dropped about 25 pounds from last year. He lists at 6 feet 1, 225. “I am focused on what I started to focus on at the end of last year, which is staying with a consistent approach, becoming a better defender and becoming a better base runner,” he told the Akron Beacon Journal earlier this month. It’s the power in his bat that has made Bradley the No. 3 prospect in the Indians’ system, according to the ratings of MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and Perfect Game. He hit 23 homers (with a .251 average) for Akron last year and has 89 bombs (with a .255 average) in five pro seasons since Cleveland picked him in the third round out of Harrison Central High in 2014. Surely he’ll start to hit as the weather improves in the Eastern League.
A streak has been snapped in Bobby Bradley’s career. For the first time in four seasons in pro ball, the Gulfport native did not make Baseball America’s list of the Top 20 prospects in his league. Bradley, at age 21, batted .251 with 23 homers and 89 RBIs for Akron in the Double-A Eastern League. Not a bad year at all, but apparently there are questions, at least in the minds of some EL managers, about his plate discipline. As BA’s Josh Norris wrote in an online chat on Thursday: “There was a little bit of love for him, but nothing overwhelming. The power is there, but managers saw him as more of a mistake-type hitter than someone who belonged in the Top 20 in the league. There are holes in his swing, and he has work to do defensively as well.” Bradley, a lefty-hitting first baseman who was starring at Harrison Central a little more than three years ago, might use this “snub” as motivation as he heads into the Arizona Fall League, which starts next month. He’ll play for Glendale. Bradley is a career .261 hitter (.352 on-base percentage) with 87 homers. It’s worth noting, of course, that he is still rated No. 5 by BA on Cleveland’s prospect list and is No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s list. He made the top 10 in the Arizona League, Midwest League and Carolina League on his way up the ladder, and he was the high-A Carolina League MVP in 2016. … Anthony Alford, the former Mr. Baseball from Petal, did make the EL Top 20, checking in at No. 9. Alford, who had a cup of coffee with Toronto in May, hit .302 with five homers, 24 RBIs and 18 steals in 245 at-bats for New Hampshire. The outfielder spent time on the disabled list with a wrist injury suffered shortly after he made his big league debut. … Former Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson, a St. Louis prospect, was No. 10 on the Texas League chart.
The home run was big, but the single proved bigger for Bobby Bradley on Tuesday night. Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star, delivered a walk-off hit in the ninth inning for Akron in a 4-3 win against New Hampshire in the Double-A Eastern League. Bradley hit his 19th homer in the sixth, helping the Rubber Ducks rally from a 3-0 deficit. The lefty-hitting first baseman, 21, one of Cleveland’s highest-rated prospects, is batting .242 with 73 RBIs in his Double-A debut. Bradley has a .335 on-base percentage thanks in part to 49 walks, and he has cut down on strikeouts (95 in 364 at-bats) this year. He is slugging .456. A third-round pick by the Indians in 2014, he has blasted 83 homers in his four pro seasons. He’s getting close. … Former Petal High star Anthony Alford, one of Toronto’s top prospects, was in New Hampshire’s lineup and went 1-for-4. Alford, 23, batting .308 in his first Class AA campaign, got a cup of coffee in the majors earlier this season before an injury knocked him back to the minors. He’ll likely return to the Blue Jays next month. P.S. Former Ole Miss and Mississippi Braves standout Chris Ellis notched his second straight win for Springfield, St. Louis’ Double-A club in the Texas League, on Tuesday. Ellis, who scuffled at Triple-A Memphis to start 2017, is 4-6, 3.60 ERA at Springfield. … Mississippi State product Zac Houston recently was elevated from low-A to high-A ball in the Detroit system. The 6-foot-5 right-hander, a 2016 draftee, has thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his two appearances for Lakeland, where he has joined fellow Mississippians Will Allen, Jake Robson and Spencer Turnbull.
Splash some water on Anthony Alford. He’s that hot. The former Petal High star is 9-for-12 with four walks through his first four games at the Double-A level. He has scored three runs, driven in two and stolen a base for New Hampshire in the Toronto system. Alford, 22, was drafted in the third round out of Petal in 2012 but this will be only his third full season in the minors since he gave up football at Ole Miss. The outfielder, rated the Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, made the 40-man roster in the off-season and drew praise for his progress from Toronto manager John Gibbons in spring training. Alford’s time is coming. … Gulfport native Bobby Bradley’s first taste of Double-A hasn’t been as sweet. The ex-Harrison Central standout is 3-for-16 in five games for Akron, Cleveland’s Eastern League club. On a positive note, the 20-year-old Bradley, the Indians’ No. 5 prospect, slugged his first homer on Monday; he now has 65 in 285 minor league games. P.S. Itawamba Community College alum Desmond Jennings is 3-for-13 through four games for Triple-A Las Vegas in the New York Mets’ system. The 30-year-old MLB veteran was released by Tampa Bay last summer and by Cincinnati this spring. Injuries have plagued Jennings the past couple of years.
Bobby Bradley homered again on Thursday, for the fourth time in his last seven games. The Harrison Central High product now has 26 homers and 94 RBIs, both totals leading the Class A Carolina League. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound lefty-hitting first baseman won the rookie Arizona League Triple Crown in 2014 and led the low-A Midwest League in homers in 2015 with 27. He is rated the No. 3 prospect in Cleveland’s system and No. 82 in all of the minors by mlb.com and has been anointed the Best Player in the Indians’ system this season by Baseball America. No doubt a lot of people are eagerly anticipating Bradley’s big league debut – and they might have to wait a while. His ETA is 2018, according to mlb.com. It might be later than that. Bradley is only 20. He still has things to work on. He is batting .249 against A-ball pitchers. He has struck out 152 times, which ranks third in the CL (Atlanta prospect Braxton Davidson leads with 165), though he is drawing some walks (.359 on-base percentage). Bradley is likely to play in Double-A next year, and that pivotal level will tell a lot more about how close he is to The Show. Patience isn’t so much a virtue in baseball as it is a requirement.
Of the 50 home runs Bobby Bradley has hit in the minor leagues, none could compare to the 11 he hit on Monday. All 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The Harrison Central High product took part in the Midway Classic, a home run derby competition between stars of the Carolina and California Leagues. They hit balls from the deck of the USS Midway, which is permanently docked in San Diego, where the Carolina-California All-Star Game will take place tonight. Bradley won his first-round matchup with six homers, then lost in the semifinals when he was out-homered 6-5. “It was a ton of fun,” he told milb.com. Bradley, 20, a lefty-hitting first baseman, is batting .242 with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 64 games for Lynchburg, Cleveland’s high Class A team. He is rated the Indians’ No. 3 prospect by mlb.com and could be making a splash in the majors in a couple of years. P.S. Southern Miss’ Kirk McCarty tossed five shutout innings Monday to get a win for Orleans in the Cape Cod League. Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum – the Ferriss Trophy winner – had a three-hit game for Bourne and is batting .385 through three CCBL games. Fellow Bulldogs star Brent Rooker also had three hits Monday and is at .353 in four games for Brewster.
BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C., was the scene on Wednesday of an impressive display of hitting prowess from a couple of minor-league Mississippians with big-league aspirations. Gulfport native and ex-Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley, one of the top prospects in the Cleveland organization, went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run as visiting Lynchburg beat the host Dash 12-6 in the Class A Carolina League clash. But even in defeat, Mason Robbins, a Leakesville native and former Southern Miss star, grabbed the headlines for Winston-Salem. Robbins hit for the cycle, getting both his first homer and triple of the season. It was the first cycle of Robbins’ career, “something you can cross off your bucket list in baseball,” he told milb.com. Robbins, a lefty-hitting outfielder, was a 25th-round pick in 2014 and isn’t among the ChiSox’s top-rated prospects. But he’s progressing in the system, hitting .275 for his career with 11 homers, 13 triples and 85 RBIs. Currently riding a hot streak, he’s at .259 with one homer, one triple and six RBIs in 2016. Bradley, a left-hitting first baseman, is batting .278 with five homers and 22 RBIs as a 19-year-old in the high-A Carolina League. For Bradley, who belted 27 homers in low-A ball in 2015, it’s not so much if he makes The Show as when.